Cindy Hauk, a mom from Texas, has created "Kippah Kantor."

Cindy Hauk, a mom from Texas, has created "Kippah Kantor." Credit: Handout

Elf envy. That's what Neal Hoffman says started his quest to create "Mensch on a Bench," a hardcover book and plush doll for Hanukkah to rival the popular Christmas toy "Elf on a Shelf." The kit is $36 at It's sold out, but customers can preorder for 2014.

Cindy Hauk, a mom from Texas, has created "Kippah Kantor," $24.99, at the Funni Business Toy Store, 27 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay, or $29.99 at

And both Hoffman and Hauk have competition for next Hanukkah -- Carolyn Greenwald, who grew up in Melville and now lives in Ithaca, is working on "The Gelt Giving Golem." Greenwald says she hopes to reach her Kickstarter goal by Tuesday.

Hoffman's son Jacob, 5, begged for an "Elf on the Shelf" until Hoffman blurted out, "You can't have an 'Elf on the Shelf.' We're Jewish. You can have a 'Mensch on a Bench.' " He then realized he might be on to something.

Hoffman created the story of Moshe the Mensch, who volunteered to sit on the bench at the temple during the original Hanukkah to make sure the oil in the menorah didn't run out.

Greenwald offers the story of the legendary clay creature of Jewish lore granting chocolate coins to children each day of the holiday they're well-behaved.

And Hauk suggests hiding the doll for children to find each Hanukkah day they perform mitzvahs, or good deeds. If they fail to behave, Kippa Kantor can be made to vanish.

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